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Statehouse

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 18th

A legislative bill to halt social promotion for 3rd graders is drawing opposition from education officials. Lawmakers are considering a measure that would hold back third-graders who cannot pass a statewide reading test. Kansas City, Kansas School District lobbyist Bill Reardon says the proposal isn't as effective as it would seem. School districts can already hold back students, but this bill would make it mandatory for kids who can't pass a reading test. Education officials say decisions on promoting third-graders should stay in local hands.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th

Workers compensation laws are likely headed for a rewrite in Kansas. The House has given first-round approval to a bill increasing certain protections for both employers and employees. The measure was crafted by an unlikely alliance between business and labor groups. But a group of Democrats - including Representative Mike Slattery of Mission - says the bill has been marred by changes that were made in a legislative committee. Slattery says that changes will no longer require companies to pay for translators for workers who don't speak English, but need to see a physician. Slattery also...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 17th

The Kansas House has given preliminary approval to a major rewrite of the state's workers compensation laws. The bill's advance is being attributed to an alliance between the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. Republican Representative Charlie Roth of Salina acknowleged that the two groups working together is unusual. Among the changes, the measure increases certain lifetime maximum benefits and gives workers more time to report injuries. For businesses, it works to ensure that a worker's pre-existing injuries are not held against employers. The bill would also limit lengthy workers...

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th

Grocery and convenience store owners are urging lawmakers to expand the sale of liquor in Kansas. A bill in the legislature would allow grocery stores to sell spirits and wine. Currently, they can only sell beer and other drinks with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. The Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee has 3 days of hearings on the issue scheduled for this week. KPR’s Stephen Koranda was at the first day of hearings yesterday (TUE)

Stephen Koranda Tuesday, February 15th

Grocery and convenience store owners today (TUE) urged a Senate committee to allow them to sell liquor and wine. Currently, only liquor stores can sell spirits and wine, while grocery stores are limited to beer and other drinks with less than 3.2 percent alcohol. Jim Puff owns the Alma Food Mart. He says rising utility and business costs are hurting small grocery stores and selling more alcohol could help increase sales.Opponents of the change say allowing more alcohol sales in grocery stores would drive locally-owned liquor stores out of business. The Senate Federal and State Affairs...

Stephen Koranda Monday, February 14th

The Kansas Senate has given first round approval to a bill that cuts state spending in the current fiscal year. The bill would leave the state with a balance of around 3 million dollars when the fiscal year ends in June. That’s less than Governor Sam Brownback’s proposal, which would have left the state with a 35 million dollar ending balance. KPR’s Stephen Koranda has more on the differences between the proposals.Final approval of the Senate budget bill could come today (TUE).

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 11th

The state of Kansas could be in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal aid that helps pay for special education. A bill that has passed the House would trim state spending for the current fiscal year. The goal is to leave the state with an ending balance to help cover a shortfall next fiscal year. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda tells us, the House bill includes a cut to education funding, putting the federal dollars at risk.Tag out- A spokesperson for Governor Sam Brownback says he is willing to work with lawmakers on the issue.

Stephen Koranda Friday, February 11th

The Kansas House today (FRI) gave approval to the so-called “Health Care Freedom Amendment” to the state constitution. The amendment is aimed at exempting Kansans from any federal requirement to purchase health insurance. It passed the House with a 91-27 vote but will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate. Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican, is president of the Senate. He generally doesn’t favor constitutional amendments.Opponents of the amendment say any federal law requiring health insurance would take precedence over Kansas law. The measure would have to be approved by the Kansas...

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Several hundred supporters of the arts in Kansas rallied near the Statehouse yesterday (THUR) to protest against cutting the Arts Commission. Governor Sam Brownback has signed an executive order to eliminate the state agency. Brownback says the move will save around 600 thousand dollars at a time when the state faces a budget crunch. But as KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that move has many arts supporters up in arms.

Stephen Koranda Thursday, February 10th

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has unveiled his comprehensive plan for growing the state’s economy. The announcement comes one month to the day since Brownback took office. During the campaign, he pledged to have an economic plan on the table in his first 30 days. Brownback says growing the state’s economy will help solve the state’s budget woes.Brownback has already taken some of the actions, including reorganizing economic development agencies. The governor is proposing two tax changes. He wants new tax breaks for business investments and income tax rebates to attract people to rural...

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